Speed talks of getting snub from Red Bull, plans for next season
Scott Speed doesn't believe Red Bull Racing treated him fairly, ethically or legally, in releasing him on Nov. 24.
"I'm very disappointed," Speed said. "This is by no means settled and I'm sure there will be a lawsuit over it. It's a 100 percent breach [of his contract]. I think it was handled very poorly. The last thing I wanted to do is sue someone. It's retarded, it's childish, but I have been given no other choice. It's like they're saying, 'Have fun making the motor home payment next year.'
"You're released two weeks after the season, in late November, and it's late to try to do something. It was a big surprise."
Red Bull Racing released this statement a week ago regarding Speed: "We have exercised our rights to end the relationship at the end of 2010," officials said. "We wish Scott the best of luck in his career."
Speed's position is he had a contract that guaranteed him a role in the Red Bull organization next season. The team's driver situation wasn't clear after it signed Kasey Kahne to a one-year contract in August. Brian Vickers, one of Red Bull's original drivers when it began racing in Cup in 2007, missed the final 25 races of this season after being treated for blood clots and his status for 2011 was based upon his treatment and recovery.
"After they signed Kasey, the options were to run me in a third car [in Cup] or in Nationwide. If Brian doesn't come back, I was their guy. They were holding onto me in case Brian didn't come back. They're sure Brian is coming back, I assume, and decided to get rid of me."
Would Speed have been willing to run in the Nationwide Series?
"Absolutely," Speed said. "[Red Bull General Manager Jay Frye] had the opportunity to bring Kasey Kahne into the company, that's a good decision. I'd be in favor of [Nationwide]. They didn't try to work anything out. I don't think that's right at all."
Severing ties with Red Bull was painful, too. He had hoped to sit down with company executives at the Cup finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to talk to them about putting together a Nationwide program, but wasn't able to do it.
"When the big decision-makers from Austria to Miami, they didn't talk to me," Speed said. "Considering the relationship with this company, it should have been worked out."
Speed has driven for Red Bull since late 2002, when the Austrian energy drink company signed him to a development contract in a program designed to bring an American driver into Formula 1. Speed was one of four drivers in the first year of the program and emerged from it in 2006 to become the first American in F1 since Michael Andretti in 1993.
When Speed was released from Toro Rosso -- a team in which Red Bull had 50 percent ownership -- in late July 2007, the company continued to support him and he moved into NASCAR in 2008. Speed spent that season in ARCA, winning four races, and the Camping World Truck Series, winning once at Dover. Red Bull determined he was ready for Sprint Cup and moved him up in 2009.
Speed finished 35th in points with a best finish of fourth at Talladega in his rookie Cup season and was 30th this year, with top finishes of 10th at Atlanta in March and Daytona in July.
"It's no secret, the team had a very tough time this season," Speed said. "The beginning of the year went really well, the cars were good and there wasn't a big difference between Brian and I. When Brian got sick, the team decided to take the year to try new things."
Through 11 races, Vickers was 20th in points. Speed was 26th, but he'd scored only 67 fewer points.
"Past halfway in the season, Jay [Frye] moved away from the competition side and gave [Technical Director] John Probst the power to run the team on the competition side. John is a very smart guy and the team started to get much better. Our stuff started coming around because we were trying all this new stuff. I was running 16th at Atlanta and blew up and was running well at Fontana [finishing 24th]."
Speed also had finishes of 19th in the Chase at Kansas and Charlotte. They were his two top-20s in the final 18 races. Speed has made only 75 Cup starts and is convinced he's making progress.
"I've made such improvements in my stock car ability over the first year," Speed said. "It would be a shame to let that go and leave it. It certainly took a while, but I feel really confident in my ability as a stock car driver."
Speed is open to racing in any series, in any type of car in 2011.
"I'm looking everywhere, honestly," Speed said. "I'm looking at all options. It's been a hard two weeks trying to find a ride. It hasn't been long enough to decide what the best thing is. I've never had a manager. Since I was 19, I've been under Red Bull's management. They'd say, 'You're going here, you're racing that.' I need someone to run my website, I need to put a team in place, there's so much to it that I've never done.
"The decision of where I go will be one of the most important of my career. What brand do I associate myself with? Red Bull invested a lot of time and money in my name and brand and I became an international brand. I'm not going to make any rash decisions, even though it's December."
Speed knows this late in the year, with sponsorship deals done, finding a job in Cup will be difficult. Nationwide is on his radar, along with the Izod IndyCar Series and sports cars.
"I believe I can be successful immediately in IndyCar with my background in road racing in open wheel and Formula 1," he said. "I've always been successful in formula racing in the past."
Speed has driven in only one sports car race, the Grand-Am Rolex Series at Daytona in July with Kyle Busch as his teammate.
"That was fun," Speed said. "I definitely wouldn't mind running in the Daytona 24-Hour."
Money isn't an issue, but a competitive team is.
"I want an opportunity to be in a good position," Speed said. "To have good people around you who can win the race is more important than getting paid."
Speed had other terrible news on Nov. 24, worse than losing his job at Red Bull Racing.
"It was the same day I found out my mom has lung cancer," he said. "It makes you put life into perspective. I'm dealing with this [racing] situation, but getting both news on the same day, one outweighs the other pretty heavily."
Speed's job wanted ad looks like this: "Race car driver, age 27. Has Formula 1 and Sprint Cup experience. Will consider all viable opportunities."
Even in December, Speed is certain to get some interesting responses.